I first got involved in research during my undergraduate program at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences department. I worked closely with Dr. Christine Brennan, PhD, CCC-SLP, in the Brain and Behavior Lab working on the benefits of large, medium, and small grain instruction for English-speaking adults learning to read Hangul. The excitement and passion she exuded during her classes made it so natural for students like myself to want to learn more about how to take my education further.
After about a year of working together, Dr. Brennan asked me if I was interested in presenting our research at the 2018 ASHA Convention. I wasn’t even aware that undergraduate students were allowed to attend, let alone present. Dr. Brennan reassured me that not only was it allowed, it was encouraged! I quickly agreed and began the application process online.
As I started the submission process, it seemed daunting, and I agonized over my submission. I repeatedly asked myself . . .
- Did I select the appropriate topic area?
- How am I supposed to cut down my writing to fit the word limit?
- Was I supposed to register for the convention before submitting this proposal?
- What session format do I choose?
- How do I write an abstract?
After consulting with Dr. Brennan, she calmed my fears and guided me through the process. I was especially surprised by how quickly I completed the abstract/summary, in particular. Much of it was already written out from our prior Institutional Review Board (IRB) submission—it just needed a few modifications. Once submitted, I realized how painless the whole process actually was.
After my first ASHA Convention experience, I left with more confidence in my ability to present, more courage to speak to other professionals in our field, and more knowledge from the sessions and posters I attended.
If you’re a student thinking about submitting a proposal to the 2022 ASHA Convention (or even any local or state association conferences!) for the first time, do it! I have a few tips to get you started . . .
- Add all of the submission deadlines into your calendar before you even start the application process (when the call for papers open, deadline for proposal submissions, deadline for submitting the Presenting Author Agreement, when to register for the Convention, etc.)
- Send reminders to any other presenting authors you’re working with to ensure they complete their Presenting Author Agreements prior to the provided deadline.
- Review ASHA’s Call for Paper Submissions Guidelines. They’re extremely helpful when navigating each step of the process!
- The best part about the online submission process is that you can do it in sections. Use this to your advantage . . . as you move through the application, get input from professors, advisors, or mentors who have been through the process before. Take it one step at a time.
- If you don’t have anyone in your program whom you can reach out to with questions, email email@example.com. They answered many of my questions in a timely manner!
This past November, I returned to the 2021 ASHA Convention as a presenter as a 3rd-year doctoral student of audiology presenting research on face mask use in healthcare settings: effects on communication, cognition, listening effort, and strategies for amelioration.
This time around, I felt completely comfortable in both navigating the submission processes and presenting. Although, I did have to navigate presenting in-person as well as with those attending virtually. While the presentation style was different, having been through the process before, I felt comfortable knowing that I could figure out where I needed to be and when. If I was asked questions that completely stumped me during my presentation, I knew how to respond. I really enjoyed my time as a repeat presenter because the process was familiar, and I had the confidence to truly be excited and passionate when explaining my research.
For anyone considering submitting a proposal but is hesitant because of the submission process, I encourage you to do it anyway . . . and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for help! The learning opportunities, experience, networking, and relationship-building that come with presenting at the ASHA Convention is worth it. It’s a highlight of my student career that I always look forward to and I’m grateful to have had the ability to do it.